Ethics and Ideology: Objectives and Readings

Some influential philosophers have claimed that ethical beliefs function to express and perpetuate a particular power structure. Popular ethical beliefs are either the beliefs actually held by the dominant class; or they are the beliefs that the dominant class forces on the less dominant classes. In either case, these philosophers argue that popular ethical beliefs are those which, if followed by the majority of people, are in the interests of the dominant class.

In other words, we don't use reason to deduce ethical claims. We are brainwashed by whoever controls the schools, the pulpit, the media, or the money. Nietzsche challenges us to authenticity; Marx challenges us to revolution.


After studying this material, you should be able to:

  1. Explain Nietzsche's views on ethics;

  2. Explain Marx and Engels' views on the historical development of ethical ideas;

  3. Explain the Marxist concept of alienated labor.

  4. Answer Questions 1 and 2 on the Midterm Exam. (Do it NOW!)


Week 10 Ethics and Ideology Notes on Ethics and Ideology
Friedrich Nietzsche "Beyond Good and Evil" (SS)
Nietzsche on Race and Sex
Notes on Marxist Economics
Kurt Vonnegut "Harrison Bergeron"


Sandy's X10 Host Home Page | Sandy's Google Sites Home Page
Questions or comments?